Today's Family Medicine News Highlights

November 25, 2015

Global News

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Dr. Julio Montaner calls for HIV/AIDS for everyone in Canada 
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National Post

Scientists produce malaria-resistant mosquitoes
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The Medical Post

Quebec unveils five-year plan to improve palliative care

The 50 measures and $4.5 million in new spending contained in a new five-year Quebec action plan for palliative and end-of-life care will both improve services and help to ease the physical and emotional burdens being borne by the dying and their caregivers, says the province’s health minister.

“This plan reflects our government’s engagement to continue the development of our service offerings in palliative and end-of-life care in an effort to better respond to the real needs of Quebecers,” Dr. Gaétan Barrette said at the unveiling of the new plan.

“It is important for us to provide people at the end of their lives with the best services possible, regardless of their age, sickness or living environment.

“We also want to recognize the role played by caregivers and support them by reinforcing respite services,” added the minister.

The money will help to give caregivers a break by bringing professional help into people’s homes.

Developed under the auspices of Bill 52 (renamed Law 2), an act respecting end-of-life care that was passed by Quebec’s National Assembly in June 2014, and which notably sets out special and specific rules for physician-assisted death that come into effect on Dec. 10, the new five-year plan contains 50 measures grouped under nine priorities.

Dubbed, “Pour une meilleure qualité de vie” (For a better quality of life), and elaborated in collaboration with some two dozen clinicians and other partners and experts in the field of palliative and end-of-life care, it claims to contain “tangible solutions” for the improved delivery of those services by “people and organizations that work on a daily basis with people at the end of life, whether in healthcare facilities, community organizations, palliative care facilities,” and in their homes.

The nine priorities of the plan include those outlined in Law 2 that are about to take effect, as well as keeping people in their homes as long as possible who require palliative or end-of-life care, and informing the public about the new law and its personal and societal challenges.

The new plan also provides for $4.5 million in additional government funding for nurses and patient attendants involved in home care for palliative patients.

“It’s an investment to help give a break to caregivers,” Dr. Barrette’s spokesperson, Joanne Beauvais, told the Medical Post.

According to Beauvais, the $4.5 million will be allocated mostly through the province’s network of comprehensive public healthcare clinics, known as CLSCs.

“Depending on the level of care that is required, the money will help to give caregivers a break by bringing professional help into people’s homes,” said Beauvais. “The goal is to help keep people in their homes for as long as possible, even a few days or weeks.”

She noted that 11% of Quebecers currently die at home in their beds. “Our goal with Law 2 (and) this plan is to raise that to 20%,” said Beauvais.

The new five-year plan, she added, will also help to smooth out the currently uneven offering of palliative care services across the province.

Since 2004, when then-health minister cum current-Quebec premier Dr. Philippe Couillard brought in the province’s first legislative rules surrounding palliative care, Quebec provides one palliative bed per 10,000 people. The province currently has 825 beds that are financed to the tune of roughly $68,000 each.

The problem, said Beauvais, is that more beds are available in more affluent areas, such as Montreal’s West Island, than in more economically challenged and/or remote communities.

“We think this plan will help to spread things out more evenly,” she said.

For former Quebec neurosurgeon and physician-assisted death advocate Dr. Georges L’Espérance, the government’s new palliative care plan is both a smart and welcome adjunct to Bill 52.

“It takes people a lot of money to take care of sick family members,” Dr. L’Espérance told the Medical Post from Mexico, where he is vacationing. “It’s a continuum of care when people are sick at home. So any measures that lighten the load of caregivers and keeps sick people at home, even for a short time before they might require palliative care or physician-assisted death, is a good thing.”

The Winnipeg Free Press

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